The weekly reading log has not surprisingly became something far less than weekly. Eventually the failure to keep up with the weekly schedule became its own sort of discouragement, making it even less likely that I would post.
I then decided to refactor the way I was storing the books’ metadata to use Jekyll’s new-ish collections feature as I do for Backlist. And why make new posts on the old format when I knew that I would be redoing it all anyways?
So, the new formatting is finished now and going forward I’ll forget the weekly posts and just put up books when I have the time. To start, a dump of what I’ve read in the last couple months.
A detailed and thorough narrative of the discovery of the Stuxnet worm, a probably U.S.-Israeli-designed weapon targeting the Iranian nuclear program, and the identification of its designed purposed and its creators. Less interesting on the theoretical consequences of the development of cyberweapons, but the mechanics of the investigative process are very well rendered. Zetter strikes a great balance in pitching the technical content to a casual reader without being so limited as to be misleading.
A clear, concise run through the global dimensions of the credit bubbles—Iceland, Greece, Germany, etc.—of the 2000s that ends with a bleak portrait of the consequences of the financial crisis in the U.S.
A great collection of work with early modern travel narratives. Some very specific stuff that will be mostly of interest to narrow fields of experts, but all of the essays have some useful analytical tools that can be used generally, particularly Joan-Pau Rubiés’s “Travel-Writing and Humanistic Culture”.
The profile of Aaron Swartz is interesting, but the surprising part of this book (and what I think makes it most successful) is the construction of the historical context for copyright and free culture in U.S. intellectual and publishing culture from the early nineteenth century. I did not expect the first third or so of a book on the Swartz to cover Webster’s dictionary and early twentieth-century sheet music publishers, but it was an effective lens.
In its broad strokes provides a pretty typical business history narrative centered on key individuals and corporate competition, but provides an interesting additional layer of using the cultural currency of the Mario character as a lens to track Nintendo’s successes. Ryan doesn’t employ this lens throughout, but the book is at its strongest where he does.
A recent installment in the Routledge ‘Rewriting Histories’ series geared at collecting articles published elsewhere to introduce new historiographical trends. It may be my background at Texas where we addressed ‘Atlantic history’ in a broader context than its narrowest Anglo-American expression, but I wish this were more ‘global’. I had anticipated finding some good shortcuts into getting myself further up to speed on the Pacific, but the focus here is more on bringing Africa and the Iberian empires into the Atlantic paradigm. The material chosen to do that work has been chosen well; it’s just not what I needed personally.
A mirror of sorts to Seth Dickinson’s The Traitor Baru Cormorant. Both explore the dynamics of imperial-scale political maneuvering, but where Dickinson’s portrayal was relatively bloodless and focused on the mechanics of power, Addison’s story is above all a character study of a young person coming of age under pressure. I came to this based on strong recommendations from several participants on The Incomparable, and their enthusiasm clearly derived from Addison’s representation of race and gender. I found that less remarkable than they seem to have, but I am also less steeped in the fantasy fiction context, so I may not understand the full extent to which this work departs from the norm.
A collection of very process-oriented essays addressing the use of GIS and mapping in spatial history. Of particular interest to me was the essay by Ruth Mostern and Elijah Meeks on building the Song Dynasty Gazetteer.
First installment of a urban fantasy detective series about a London police inspector who joins a shadowy alternative division dedicated to supernatural policing. Rests on a cool conceit of London being governed by rival families of river gods representing older Anglo-Saxon heritage and newer immigrant arrivals. Recommended on the To Be Read newsletter. I’ll read more of them.
Fascinating analysis of the social and technological construction of spam from the earliest listservs to the contemporary web. A particularly insight is Brunton’s juxtaposition of the trajectory of defintions of spam with the trajectory of ‘legitimate’ online communication and community from early ad hoc organization to the hyper-commercialized and -centralized present. Spam began as essentially anti-social or perhaps unethical behavior performed by members of a community to be managed by that community and has been gradually pushed further to the margins until it has become a thoroughly criminalized behavior pursued by a relatively small group of outsiders.
Helpful overview and reference for a great-man, Whiggish approach to the development of scientific meteorology, but limited analytical interest.
Fun science fiction satire of gentrification (particularly in Austin, TX); well-suited to quashing regrets about having to move away. I originally had a difficult time getting into the swing of things, perhaps the bones of its original serial release for Kindle that kept me from picking up momentum. That said, once I was into it, I sped through things.
Another of the Routledge ‘Rewriting Histories’ series collecting articles published elsewhere. Does a good job of introducing the different threads of environmental history: histories of the environment as a historical actor, context, and stage; histories of human ideas about the environment and their relationship to it; and histories of environmental activism.